RICHMOND — A new stainless steel time capsule was placed in the northeast cornerstone beneath the Robert E. Lee statue’s pedestal Saturday morning.
Virginia Secretary of Administration Grindley Johnson and Capitol Police Col. Steve Pike placed the 12x6x6-inch stainless-steel box into the cornerstone.
Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale designed the box to house the artifacts. The box was sealed with silicone and pumped with argon to prevent water and air damage. There are no plans to identify it with a sign.
First lady Pamela Northam and Meryem Karad, a member of the governor’s staff, had carried the box to the circle Thursday morning. A 16-member committee that chose its contents wanted to display images of COVID, the Black Lives Matter protests, equity and inclusivity.
Among the items in the time capsule are prayer beads from a person who died of COVID, an expired vial of Pfizer vaccine, a steel railroad spike found in Richmond’s African Ancestral Burial Ground, a photo of a Black ballerina standing under the Lee statue and the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Michael Paul Williams’ signed collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning columns on dismantling the legacy of the Confederacy in its former capital.
The capsule also contains a copy of a July article in Teen Vogue, “Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee Monument is Coming Down, Thanks to Me and Black Women Like Me,” written and submitted by Zyahna Bryant, a Charlottesville student-activist.
Work continued Saturday to reconstruct the 40-foot-tall granite plinth after a masonry crew spent 12 hours Thursday removing 19 large blocks from the base in hopes of finding a time capsule reportedly placed under the cornerstone in 1887.
That time capsule was never found, and workers returned to the site Friday to clean up the site.